Studying abroad is one of the most incredible things you can do. While some people may say that their entire time studying abroad was a blast, usually they are leaving out some of the negative, yet necessary aspects that come along with being away from home for such an extended period. One huge thing that I have been struggling with for a while is my mental health. I knew that it would be difficult traveling thousands of miles away from my family, and it has been, but I want to remind you that, yes there will be some difficult moments, maybe more than you expect, but you will push through them and learn how to deal with your feelings.
After my sophomore year, I dealt with a lot of difficult moments, especially losing my grandparents: this is when I realized I was dealing with depression. My fall 2022 semester went really well because of the great people I was then surrounded by, and I then came back home for winter break. I knew that soon I was going to be in Rome, a place I had been dreaming of going since the first time I came in 2016. I was so excited and nervous at the same time because I wanted to be here, but also was freaked out that I was going to be away from my parents for so long. After the summer, my bond with my parents grew a lot and I relied on them, especially my mom, to give me advice and help me feel better when I needed it. I was also regularly talking to my therapist which also helped.
When I left to come to Rome, I had such dread about being with negative people, but once I met my first roommate, before we got on the plane, I was getting more excited because I started to realize that everyone is not bad. Arriving and meeting my remaining five roommates also made me feel better because we all identified as queer or bisexual, so I knew I would be comfortable.
Things do not always go as you expect them to go and sometimes your brain will work against you. This started to happen to me as we got more settled in, and people found who they got along with more. I began to feel isolated and it hit me hard. I tend to look for the worst in people because of past experiences, so it was difficult to focus on positives. I realized that I was not enjoying my life as much anymore and I was grasping at invisible straws of negativity, so I realized that I needed to talk with my therapist and my parents about how I was feeling. They reminded me to focus on positive experiences and people, and I try to always remember this.
When we had the black history month event where Cinzia Adanna Ebonine and Denise Kongo spoke about their experiences as black, Italian women living here, something that really spoke to me was their perspective regarding resilience versus adaptability. Cinzia specifically mentioned how she no longer uses the word resilient and instead employs adaptability because it is much more accurate to people’s situations. Her perspective really opened my eyes to the fact that I have become more adaptable to situations by rethinking the way I view them. Instead of thinking negatively, I try to focus on things I enjoy: reading, going outside and exploring, cooking, and watching comforting things with people I enjoy.
Their perspective on being adaptable to situations makes more sense than saying someone becomes resilient to something because it simply is not true for most of us. I’m surely not resilient, but I am adaptable. I choose to look for the good in my life as much as possible and not give in to my depression.